It’s Mother’s Day. It could as easily be Father’s Day, Family Day, or Administrative Professionals’ Day; we make a point to set aside time to appreciate what we value…or do we? Do all these seemingly celebratory days exist on the calendar because we’re so fired up to appreciation one another that we need additional time to do so? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t see many people celebrating the experience of motherhood with the enthusiasm of Mother’s Day very often. Hell, I don’t see people show appreciation for each others efforts openly very often, whatever they are. I see a lot of coaching, a lot of feedback, tons of criticism, plenty of boundary setting – although I’m not sure I see that last one done well very often out in the world – and just maybe, once all that is behind one human primate or another, the occasional thank you, or expression of regret. I guess I’m not surprised that learning to treat myself well has been such slow going, or is so fraught with anxiety sometimes; the messaging received from others is so often lacking in appreciation.

Today is Mother’s Day. It’s safe to appreciate mothers today, and thank them for the effort involved in motherhood. That’s a lovely thing. What about the other 364 days on the calendar? Is motherhood only worthy of appreciation 1/365 of the year? That hardly seems reasonable, considering the work involved. I thought about making a cheeky joke right about now…something about the bad moms out there bringing down the global average appreciation due to mothers everywhere, but even considering it, and knowing that there really are some less-than-ideal mothers in the world (and some human beings who ought not have undertaken the matter at all), it smacked of disrespect to the multitude of fine mothers everywhere, doing their best but being appreciated, often, just the once each year. So…no jokes, because actually… It isn’t funny.

"Circus Clown" ... ...A picture of a rose won't set off my Mother's allergies. :-)

“Circus Clown” …
…A picture of a rose won’t set off my Mother’s allergies. 🙂

Seriously? Saying thank you more often than we offer criticism seems likely to create a more pleasant world we can all enjoy a bit more than the one we’ve got. “Please” is another nice useful word. I’m also a big fan of “I’m sorry” – although it is currently somewhat out of favor, with articles queuing up about how women ‘apologize’ too much. (Has everyone forgotten that “I’m sorry” may also be a simple expression of sympathetic regret, not exclusively a statement of responsibility? Is being terse, dismissive, or rude about painful experiences that we didn’t personally cause actually a good thing?) I also feel appreciated when I hear kind words, words of recognition and acknowledgement, and insightful questions that foster deeper dialogue about topics I find engaging, novel, or create an intimate connection. I enjoy being invited to share time or experiences – and I feel valued and appreciated to be invited. Feeling appreciated, like ‘contentment’, is a powerful positive emotional experience often overlooked while I am tromping around life and the world seeking ‘happiness’.

Appreciation is a big deal. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in feeling nurtured by the feeling of being appreciated. I found myself contemplating the nature of appreciation, and these many assorted appreciation days on the calendar for this group or that one – each and every one seems reasonable inasmuch as appreciation, sincere, genuine, real appreciation can’t be ‘overdone’. There is, I assure you, no surplus. The thing is, though, it doesn’t seem to truly elevate or value anyone to set aside a single day to say ‘oh, by the way, thanks for all that…’ and then return to treating people poorly, without regard, dismissively, discourteously, or simply overlook them for the rest of the year.

Sitting here wondering about all that and I return to thinking about how I treat myself, how I appreciate my own efforts, how far I’ve come as a person… It suddenly struck me that I tend to treat my own birthday as a sort of ‘Me Appreciation Day’ each year. I can do better than that. Today is a good day for appreciation – every day is. Today is a good day to enjoy the things I do well, and appreciate my skills in life, and the qualities that make me who I am. Today is a good day to appreciate love and kindness and the new start presented with each dawn. Today is a good day to treat myself with compassion, and take good care of this fragile vessel I live within.

Today is a good day for Mother’s Day, and I will most certainly appreciate mine. Today I will honor her work further, by also appreciating myself – the woman I see in the mirror certainly puts in the time and effort to be worthy of my every day appreciation, too, even if she only has one day on the calendar. 🙂